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Mar 15, 2021

6 Tips to Get Through the Pandemic Anniversary

It’s been one year since COVID-19 was officially categorized as a ‘global pandemic’. Here are some tips if you're struggling this week.

Hayley Sellick | Marketing & Communications

Have you been feeling a little ‘off’ recently? More irritable, sad or anxious? It seems that many people have reached some kind of breaking point in the last few weeks and there’s a very real reason for it. Psychologists call it the ‘anniversary effect’ - after a traumatic event, our brains store a collection of disturbing feelings, thoughts or memories, which can later be triggered by certain dates. With this pandemic, there may not be one specific date, but there were a lot of big changes around this time a year ago: the first case of the coronavirus in Alberta was announced on March 5, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, a State of Local Emergency was declared in Calgary on March 15 and the Alberta Premier declared the Public Health State of Emergency on March 17. Most of us believed the restrictions would only last for two weeks or so, then things would go ‘back to normal’. But two weeks turned into a month, a month turned into six months and now here we are, a full year later. If someone had said then that the pandemic would still be affecting our lives today, we probably wouldn’t have believed them. Hindsight is 20/20 (sorry, we had to).

The last year has really taken a toll on people’s mental health. Data from a study published back in September found that the prevalence of depression symptoms was three times higher during this pandemic than it was before. As we reach the anniversary of COVID-19 really starting to affect us all here in Calgary, it’s highly likely that many people are struggling a lot right now. 

Here are a few ideas on how to get through this week and beyond:

Limit Your News Coverage

Anniversaries of public crises will receive significant media coverage, which can trigger your own personal memories. Try to limit the time you spend watching the news or ‘doomscrolling’ through social media. If you do go on social media, try to fill your feed with some positive news; we love The Happy Broadcast (Facebook | Instagram)

Remember That Your Feelings Are Valid

If you’re struggling, remember that you are not alone. It’s tempting to avoid thinking about everything you’ve gone through over the last year, but it can be helpful to express your feelings. Talk with a friend or family member or write about how you’re feeling in a journal. This year has affected each of us differently but there are people who understand what you’re going through. If you feel overwhelmed, consider seeking help from a mental healthcare professional

Reevaluate Your Priorities

This pandemic has taken a lot from us, but for many, it has also given us a chance to slow down. Now is a good time to reevaluate your priorities and figure out what is really important to you in life. Things may not go back to normal in the exact same way we remember but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Embrace the new normal.  Pay attention to what brings you joy and what brings you down, then try to do more of the former and less of the latter.

Take Care Of Yourself

If you’re finding things more difficult than usual, be gentle with yourself and take it easy. Self-care is often overlooked and can be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but it’s important to be aware of your physical and mental health. Exercising, getting enough rest, connecting with loved ones and fuelling your body with nourishing food are just some ways of taking care of yourself. 

Check In On Your Loved Ones & Community

We’ve all been affected by this pandemic. Make some time to check in with your loved ones, whether that's a quick phone call, a group Zoom meeting or sending them a card to let them know you're thinking about them. (If you're looking for an activity to do together, read our last blog post or check out our latest event). If you're able to, look for ways you can help your community and your city. Certain communities have been hit harder than others. Let’s help each other get back on our feet in whatever ways we can.

Don’t Lose Hope

Things have been tremendously difficult over the last year and many of us have just been taking everything a day at a time; with so much uncertainty, it has been difficult to do anything else. But we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines have been released for public use. The number of cases is generally in decline, both here in Alberta and in many places around the world. Many countries are beginning to relax their COVID-19 restrictions and people are starting to make plans for the future. Now is the time to open yourself up to cautious hope and start thinking about a more positive future.

Though this has been a year of uncertainty, one thing that is for certain is that we have all been through a lot. This pandemic has caused irreparable harm for so many people. Make space to grieve and reflect on the losses of the past year, but also appreciate the gains, learn from the lessons the year has taught us and look forward to the future.

If you or someone you know might be struggling, there are resources that can help. For those in Calgary, reach out to 211 via phone or text to speak to a Community Resource Specialist, who can work with you to get you support⁣. ⁣Alberta Health Services also has mental health supports available for all Albertans, 24/7 - phone 811 or visit albertahealthservices.ca⁣. Always call 911 if you are in immediate danger⁣.